George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Often business owners overlook the importance of communication with clients or assume that it’s taking place without creating the actual processes to ensure it is. Good communication is the foundation of a solid client relationship, and it forms the basis of client satisfaction.
As part of research for the 2016 Home Care Benchmarking Study, Home Care Pulse’s data analysts discovered that clients’ likelihood to recommend a provider is more closely related to their satisfaction with office staff than their satisfaction with their caregiver. So while many providers focus the majority of their resources and energy on improving their caregivers, they may want to shift their focus to improving office staff communication with clients. Here are a few tips to get started:
People are creatures of habits. They like consistency and reliability, especially when it comes to their care. You clients want to trust your company, but in order to do this, they need the stability that comes through consistent communication. Set clear times or situation in which you plan to call them, and let them know when those times will be. They may be weekly check-in calls or monthly home visits, or they may be a monthly letter about billing or a daily text message. Regardless of your medium, make sure you’re consistent and that the client knows from the beginning when and how often to expect communication.
As soon as you are aware of a problem (an error in billing, a schedule change, etc.), inform your client. Let the client know what has happened and how you plan to resolve it, as soon as possible. Forgetting to inform the client, or informing the client only moments before a big change makes your company look sloppy and irresponsible. Make it a priority to contact your clients with promptness, and provide them with updates or additional information as necessary.
Whenever possible, let your clients determine how often and by what means they’ll receive communication. When you begin services with a client provide them with a few options for communication and then respect what they choose. Perhaps they would like a weekly check-in, or perhaps they’d rather have bi-weekly or monthly calls. If they prefer email or snail mail, accommodate those requests as best you can. When you communicate with your clients using their preferred method, they’ll be happier and more likely to respond.
Conversations with your clients should be more than just factual. They should be personal. When you check in with your clients, be sure to ask how they are and to listen to the answer. You shouldn’t merely rush through the weekly schedule and then end the conversation. Take a few minutes to ask them about their day and their upcoming activities. Write down any key events that are happening so you can follow up the next week. As you engage with them in personal conversation, you’ll build a lasting and trusting relationships based on solid communication.
The strongest relationships are built upon mutual trust and quality communication. Start working with your staff to improve these fundamental areas of communication. As you do, not only will clients be more satisfied with your services, but they’ll also be more willing to tell their friends.